The “Summer in Berlin” dress

First of all, let me say how extremely pleased I am today for the following reasons:

a) I managed to finish this challenge on time

b) I actually have photos to show you where I smile (!!!)

c) hubby is finally starting to learn how to use our camera (see below)

Yay – not blurry, no limbs chopped off! Go hubby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin is one of the greatest places to be at in summer which is lucky because we won’t go anywhere this summer. My husband was offered employment after he’s been scraping by as a freelance ESL-teacher for years so he took the job, of course. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to cancel our trip to California that we had planned to take in June (pretty much right now). This is particularly sad because California isn’t just a random destination but my husband’s home and now, he probably won’t get time off until next year in spring. :( Anyway, let’s look at the bright side: We get to spend our entire summer in Berlin. 20% of the city is covered by forests. We have so many natural lakes there’s no way one can even know all of them, there are all kinds of canals and water arms going through the city (in fact, I live on an “island” right in the city centre) and most of the streets are lined by old trees. Every morning when I ride my bike to bring my little son to preschool I am overwhelmed by the beauty of those wonderful tree-lined streets and the beautiful houses from 1880 to 1910 (always interspersed by some ugly modern buildings but somehow, that keeps it interesting).

The Berliners don’t have a very good reputation when it comes to their sense of dressing. Our current mayor once said “Berlin is poor but sexy” – yes, he’s probably right about this…Berliners are extremely casual dressers and look a lot less polished than e.g. people from Munich. I am one of the most casual dressers at all because I work at home and usually don’t even bother to get dressed until it’s 2pm. I do like pretty clothes but it’s so easy to neglect my clothes when there are no colleagues who might talk behind my back. When I finally have time off this means I actually have time to dress up…I actually have time to iron a pretty dress, put on some make-up and realise that I can look quite pretty when I am not lost in translation. So that’s why my vacation dress is rather fancy…

 

2 seconds are obviously not enough for the automatic camera timer…but enough to give you a view of the v-neck in the back.

 

….ok. I admit it: The other reason is that I started this dress when the pink challenge was up but of course, my translation work came in between and it’s a miracle I managed to complete it for the vacation challenge on time. It does fit though because this is really the type of stuff I wear when I finally have true vacations (not talking about the weekends that I spend on the playground with my little son).

Spot the terrorist!

There he is.

 

The Facts
⁃ Fabric: About 4.5 yards of rayon challis that I had bought more than 10 years ago. I can’t remember that price but since I was still a student then and didn’t spend much on fabric it can’t have cost a fortune.


⁃ Pattern: Butterick 5603 (Retro pattern)  – I made the skirt longer and I increased the darts in the back area to get it closer to my natural waist
⁃ Year: reprint from 1956
⁃ Notions: zipper for 1.60 EUR, eyelet trim from stash
⁃ Time to complete: I never time my sewing time but it felt as though it took me forever which is probably due to the fact that I sewed over so many weeks so little…the cutting of the dress was the most time consuming part. The skirt pieces were HUGE (even worse because I added about 5 inches to the length), the fabric was slippery – not a pleasant experience at all. Sewing the dress was quite easy. I would guess, all in all, I spent about 8-10 hours on this dress.
⁃ First worn: On June 17 for the photos. Haven’t had the chance yet to wear it outside because it was rather cool this weekend.
⁃ Wear again? – Absolutely. I love this dress. Although I probably won’t make it again so soon because those skirt pieces were so difficult to handle…
⁃ Total price: I spent 1,60 EUR for the zipper. The fabric was probably around 10 EUR when I bought it.

 

All in all, I am very happy with this dress. If I sewed it again, I would lengthen the bust part for half an inch because it is a tiny bit too short for me. I already lengthened the bodice itself (at the designated lengthening line that is indicated in the pattern) but I guess hardly any women was 6 feet tall in the 50s and that lenthening line doesn’t consider that the bust part itself is also longer in tall women.

My little son keeps saying that I look like a pink princess in this dress – he adores pink – and he wants to have a pink dress, too. Oh well, considering how tolerant Berlin is towards funky clothing styles he should be able to get away with wearing a pink dress…

PS: Sorry for the indoor photos. I had planned to illustrate my bragging about Berlin with some great Berlin shots but my terrorist son got up at 2:45am on Saturday morning which pretty much messed up our entire Saturday. In the morning when he was wide awake we were practically unconscious and in the afternoon when we were finally relatively awake he slept. We didn’t manage to leave the house at all. Sunday was lost on trying to educate the little Big City boy about bees and and how they make honey. We spent almost 2 hours trying to get to that event just to find out it had been cancelled. When we were finally home again our son refused to go out one more time (LEGO obsession) and we had to improvise. Hubby took half the photos and then Josh and I had fun playing with the timer of our camera…

Yes, we love this dress!

Author

Djamila

Djamila is a German translator living in Berlin, Germany. She is married to an American and has a 3-year-old son who never sleeps. She used to sew A LOT before her son was born. After 3 years of wearing practical sandbox-clothes she finally wants to get her original fashion style back and sew a lot more again.

21 Comments

  1. I love it! It’s such a gorgeous colour on you! And I love that you are having fun in the photos, even if we don’t get to see Berlin. I had no idea Berlin was so beautiful in summer. My mental image is very much based on Weimar-era art, so very grey and dark. Thank you for the new perspective. And I hope you make it to California soon!

    • Thanks, Leimomi. I hope I’ll be able to take some Berlin photos soon to get that Weimar-era image out of your mind. ;) Your mental image is half correct though. Berlin can be very grey and depressing during the winter months but once spring comes around it turns into such a beautiful city because of all the trees along the streets, the parks, the forests and the lakes. We have our usual share of historical buildings, museums, galleries etc. but since you can find this in every big city that’s not so special to me.

  2. Beautiful dress! Love the retro pattern and the fabric is delightful. It’s nice to see you sewing and posting again. Im sure you will have an awesome summer and will enjoy CA next spring. I’ll hold the fort down for you here in California!

    • Thanks, Barbara. :) If all goes according to the plan I’ll be able to participate in the next few challenges, too. It’s the middle of the year and I am finally getting a hang of organizing my sewing schedule…
      Say hello to beautiful California for us. It can compete with Berlin any time – such a beautiful state.

  3. This is a lovely dress, you are indeed a pink princess. I love the eyelet detailing too. That shape is very flattering. One of my regrets about leaving Europe was that I didn’t ‘do’ Germany first. I learnt German at school (though I found it a struggle) but I was at university when the Berlin Wall came down and watching the people’s emotions had a profound effect on us watching live through the night. Have a wonderful summer, and such great Wes about your husband getting his job :)

    • Thanks, Tempest. :) If you ever do come to Berlin, you’ll have to visit and I promise no one will force you to speak German. My husband still struggles a lot with the language – he’s been here since 2005 but German is a complicated language and everybody here wants to practice their English with him…if he was Chinese he’d probably speak German fluently by now because people wouldn’t constantly volunteer to speak his mother tongue…
      I was just 11 years old when the Berlin Wall came down and we didn’t live in Berlin at the time but in the south of the GDR. I didn’t notice much from where we lived. The fall of the Berlin Wall wasn’t an event that was broadcasted on East-German tv because they still tried to hush it up and in our area the receoption of West German tv was very difficult. If you didn’t live in or near Berlin it was easy to miss what went on in that first night. I do remember going to West Berlin for the very first time just about one week afterwards – I will never ever forget that day/night there. It looked like a fairy tale land to my mom and me – all those colors, bananas, kiwis – eek, we didn’t know what to do with kiwis – they scared us because we had no idea how to eat them and we ended up not buying them… Sometimes, I still can’t believe I actually live in the former West Berlin now and I am married to an American (class enemy no. 1).

  4. Oh I love berlin!! I am so jealous that you have the whole summer there! :) I hope that you do have summery weather of course! The dress is stunning! I love the colours and the way it flows! I bet you just want to dance and twirl around in it all day! You should do a picnic on one of the lakes and take some lovely pictures! :)

    • Thanks. :) Yes, I think I will take some pics at a lake but probably in a garment for a different challenge. This post makes me realize that I should really showcase Berlin a bit better. We have such wonderful locations here and all my photos have been indoor so far.

  5. When the wall came down, I was working in an Irish-owned restaurant in upstate NY. We were in our twenties, the cooks, prep staff and waitresses. We were all amazed and put the radio on throughout our entire shift. No one spoke in the kitchen that night, we were all so happy that the wall was coming down. We were in tears. Cheers to you in a very pretty dress!

    • Thanks, Joann. It’s funny how everyone can remember the night of November 9, 1989, while we ourselves didn’t even find out right away. Berlin must have been magical during that time.

  6. Hi Djamila, you son is just darling and looks full of energy. Your dress is a really beautiful color and I love the neckline and waistline detail.

  7. That is one pretty dress to make up for not getting dressed until two pm! It is a lovely colour on you and a great fit

  8. Very pretty! I love your son’s description of you as a pink princess. :-) Your description of Berlin makes me want to go there.

  9. How interesting that you are in Berlin and that you sew. I watched an HGTV show last night and someone was moving to Berlin and I was thinking the whole time who lives in Berlin and why would anyone move there? Anyway, I teach school and teach kids and adults how to sew! I love your dress and think it is wonderful you are so tall!

  10. You are a pink princess, she turned out great. Glad hubby’s learning the ins and out’s of the camera so we can see more of your fab creations.

  11. That shade of pink is so rich and yummy..it’s the first thing I noticed. With the eyelet trim in just the right places, this dress has just the right amount of elegance and comfort for a busy mom like yourself. Your “spot the terrorist” smile is my favorite embellishment, though. You and your son are the cutest pair! Congratulations on your A,B,C accomplishments. My struggles with contributing on time and getting decent photos almost rival what goes on in my sewing room….so I can appreciate the small victories too. Well done, Djamila.

    P.S. I love saying your name in my head. It’s like our names go together somehow…like there should be a children’s book about the story of twin sisters, Najah and Djamila, who go on some sort of adventure involving handmade pink dresses and high maintenance toddlers. ;-).

    • Thanks, Najah. :) Yes, we would make quite a pair of twin sisters with our 5 and 6 feet. ;) I used to have a Romanian friend at university whose name is Geanina (Romanian spelling for Janina) and whenever we went out and guys asked for our names and we said “We’re Geanina and Djamila” they thought we were making up fake names. Haha.

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